Defences bid for erosion hotspot reaches ‘crucial’ stage

Hemsby remains undefended despite a series of surges which have claimed clifftop chalets Picture: A

Hemsby remains undefended despite a series of surges which have claimed clifftop chalets Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A bid to bring medium-term sea defences to a vulnerable stretch of coast has taken an “important and positive” step forward.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council says it is in the process of taking on a technical consultant to work up a scheme for a rock berm at Hemsby.

A 1,300m linear defence at the foot of crumbling dunes is considered the best and most affordable way to protect some 75 properties said to be at risk over the next 20 years.

It will likely stretch 400m north of the main beach entrance, and overlap the gabions at Scratby to the south.

But the structure is only being tipped as an interim measure to take the sting out of erosion problems along the stretch where two years ago 13 chalets were torn down in the wake of the Beast from the East.

James Bensly, borough councillor for Hemsby, said he welcomed the progress but added: “I personally will not be happy until we get groynes.”

MORE: ‘It has saved me’ - clifftop homeowner hails DIY rock barrier as tides tear into coastPenny Carpenter, chairman of the environment committee, said Hemsby was at the frontline of climate change impacts and that the authority was working closely with Coastal Partnership East.

She said: “The borough council, through Coastal Partnership East, has continued to engage with the Hemsby community to explore potential options for responding to coastal change at Hemsby, following the findings of the council’s coastal management study.

“A rock berm has been identified with the community as the preferred medium-term solution to help reduce the rate of erosion and give Hemsby extra time to adapt to coastal change in the longer term.

“Following the required environmental screening and scoping exercises completed earlier this year, I’m pleased to report that the council is now finalising procurement of a technical consultant which will work with in-house engineers to design in outline a rock berm scheme for planning submission, as well as identify potential costs and options for funding.

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“This stage of work is programmed to be completed in winter 2020/21.”

However, she added there were still hurdles to clear to do with planning permission, funding, and consultations.

“Only if a scheme is found to be technically, ecologically and financially viable, as well as acceptable to the community as a whole, could any application be made for government funding.

“All engineering options are costly and would require significant contributions from a range of partners,” she said.